Can I See Him?
As I tell my story I have a picture of the character in my head. I see him move about his home or job or making a point during a conversation with a friend. I melt at his smile and feel his displeasure. But, is my reader seeing him as I do? Does the reader see his closely cut hair? His coffee-brown color? How the color of his eyes changes when he makes love? This is a huge undertaking. Huge. How can I best achieve this goal? Here are a few tools I use. (1) When I first call up a character, I name him or her. Then I begin to see more of that person. (2) I know at the very beginning that person’s role in the story, even though the character’s actions may surprise me as the story unfolds. (3) Then I am careful to make sure the character speaks and acts appropriately according to who he is. A gentle man or an ordinary guy trying to make his way in the world or a man with three sisters probably would never call a woman a ‘bitch.’ A mother would not ‘plop’ her two-month-old infant on the sofa. A character who is vulnerable or easily hurt may be described as ‘watchful’: waiting for the ‘rejection’ to follow what he considers ‘conditional praise’. A boy who has not seen his mother for months, comes home from school still ‘hopeful’, but ‘sad’. (4)When fleshing out your character’s physical description, Did someone tell him he is ‘tall like his father.’ When your character is meeting someone for the first time, she describes herself as ‘5″2′, about 120 pounds’. (5) Is there one word that describes your character? Is he suspicious, introverted, likable, sneaky or reliable?